Posted 10th May 2009.
As businesses grow, they very sensibly begin to delegate or outsource “administrative” tasks. One such task is often the inputting of contact details from business cards into the contact management or CRM system. The task is typically delegated to junior staff, or nowadays a virtual assistant or service such as Shoeboxed.
As a sole practitioner I need to outsource as many administrative tasks as possible to preserve my time to focus on marketing, sales and client work. But inputting contact details is one task I keep myself.
The task isn't hugely onerous – but it does take time. I'm prepared to invest that time for three reasons:
- I always recall useful details of my interaction with the contact that I can enter in my system – but that I didn't capture at the time in a way an assistant would be able to transcribe. Like many people I write useful notes on the back of people's business cards. But, of course, I never capture everything. Typing in the contacts details often triggers useful memories which I can then put in the system.
- It embeds the contact's details in my mind and makes it easier for me to remember them in future – particularly if I spot something interesting for them, or think of something I can do to help them. As I've discussed before, I review my contact list monthly (weekly for high priority contacts) to try to see if there's anything I can do to further my relationships. By embedding the contacts details in my mind, a lot of this activity happens automatically during the month anyway.
- It triggers me to think about immediate follow-up. If there's something useful I can do for them within a few days of the event we met at, I will become much more memorable to them and be remembered with gratitude rather than just as a contact. A few minutes invested in thinking about what they said, the needs or interests they expressed and about the resources I might have access to that could help them always pays dividends.
Now, of course, you could get an assistant to type the raw details in, and then review yourself and do the tasks I've just talked about. But that has really never worked for me. I need the physical prompt of being forced to type the details to make me get round to thinking about the contact and potential follow-up.
So for me, this admin time is time very well spent indeed.